J.K. Rowling is an author who needs no introduction, and today she celebrates her 50th birthday. Harry Potter, who shares his creator’s birthday, would be 35 today. Not only has Rowling created a magical world beloved by fans all over the world and had a enormous impact on children’s literature but she is also a very inspiring person. I would love to meet her some day, but I know I would be absolutely star struck! In honour of her birthday, here are ten reasons why I love J.K. Rowling.
1) The magical world of Hogwarts
Hogwarts allowed Harry to escape the cupboard under the stairs, but it has also provided an escape for countless readers. This enchanting world – the castle of Hogwarts, shops like Flourish and Blotts or Honeydukes, the Forbidden Forest – was vividly described in the book, and brought to life on the screen by the movies. The world is richly built, as Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages prove. This magical world has fueled readers’ imaginations and offered them an escape from the stresses of the real world. I am one of many readers who loves to disappear back into the world of the books.
2) The messages in the books
The books have lots of good lessons to offer readers, but not in a preachy way. Most notably – the importance of friendship and love, the triumph of good over evil, the importance of being brave even when that’s difficult. The banning of the books for their discussion of magic is ridiculous, they have a lot of good to offer while also being very entertaining reads.
3) The variety of inspiring and memorable characters
Harry Potter has such a wonderful cast of characters, not just the Golden Trio but the variety of supporting characters. Some of my favourites were Nymphadora Tonks (for her courage, loyalty and of course her Metamorphagus powers!), Luna Lovegood (for her self-belief and individuality), Neville Longbottom (who was brave and did things that scared him) and Ginny Weasley (for her spunky attitude and feminist views).
4) J.K Rowling’s engagement with fans
There are many moving stories of Rowling reaching out to fans (perhaps most famously Evanna Lynch, who later played Luna Lovegood in the films). Not only does this show Rowling’s kindness and compassion, but it is reflective of her attitude towards her fans. She often answers fans’ questions on Twitter – this tweet was particularly popular:
5) Harry Potter fan culture
The Harry Potter books have been a huge source of inspiration to fans, and I have thoroughly enjoyed the wealth of fanfiction, fanart and, of course, wrock music. Wrock, or Wizard Rock, is a music genre in which bands such as Harry and the Potters, The Parselmouths and The Moaning Myrtles wrote songs about the books or characters. While it is less popular now, there are lots of great songs for fans to enjoy. The Harry Potter books have more fanfiction written about them than any other book, with stories in every genre and with every pairing you could think of. This creative fan culture shows the impact J.K. Rowling and her books have had, and shows how a community of Potterheads has formed.
6) J.K. Rowling’s inspiring quotes
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”
“Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.”
“Whatever money you might have, self-worth really lies in finding out what you do best.”
“Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me.”
7) The continuing discussions of the books
Eight years on, fans continue to discuss and debate the books. New theories are constantly emerging – including a recent theory about Harry, Snape and Dumbledore being The Three Brothers. The books are packed with detail, and I always notice something new when I re-read them. I can’t wait for the new illustrated versions, I’m sure Jim Kay’s work will greatly enrich the stories.
J.K. Rowling’s magical books have been adapted into many formats – the movies, a forthcoming play and of course the hilarious (and unofficial) A Very Potter Musical. King’s Cross now has a Platform 9 3/4 and I really want to visit the Harry Potter studios, and Harry Potter World of course!
9) The clever plotting
While part of me would obviously love another Harry Potter book, the series is perfect as it is. The seven books are well planned out and make an excellent series. I loved how, in the last book, things from the first book come up – such as the snitch from Harry’s first Quidditch match.
10) Impact on children’s literature
“Children are not ‘they.’ They are us. And this is why writing that succeeds with children often succeeds just as well with adults—not because the latter are infantile or regressive, but because the true dilemmas of childhood are the dilemmas of the whole of life: those of belonging and betrayal, the power of the group and the courage it takes to be an individual, of love and loss, and learning what it is to be a human being, let alone a good, brave, or honest one.”
The impact of Harry Potter on children’s literature has been discussed often, this series got many young readers into books but also its success increased the profile of children’s literature. Today there is a wealth of children’s and YA books, and Harry Potter played a huge part in this.
Now I want to read all the books again…Happy birthday J.K. Rowling, and thank you for the wonderful books!
As Rowling said, ‘The stories we love best do live in us forever.’